Educator of the Week - Denise Greenhalgh

posted by Tracy Herbster -

Denise Greenhalgh, 3rd Grade Teacher at Troutdale Elementary in Troutdale, Oregon

Nominated By: Jeffrey Findley (parent)

Denise has been a breath of fresh air. Our daughter has had good teachers and several exceptionally difficult teachers; Denise is an exceptionally good teacher! She gets our daughter and her students engaged. She loves her students as if they were her own kids. She speaks to the kids with respect and the parents. She allows her students to be individuals, and express themselves. Denise responds immediately to reports of bullying or mistreatment of the children. She is very animated, captivating, loving, compassionate, patient, and empathetic. We appreciate it more than she could know and would love to have her recognized.

Congrats, Denise, from all of us at K103! Get to know Denise Greenhalgh:

What inspired you to become an educator?

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a teacher. I've always loved school and learning. When I was little I thought it would be the greatest job in the world, and I was right. After 26 years of teaching it is still my passion.

What do you like most about teaching?

The best thing about teaching? The KIDS! I get to spend my day with people who are enthusiastic, positive, willing to hear new ideas and to try new things. Kids mostly like each other, and are willing to problem solve if they don't. They accept compliments, appreciate feedback and ask for help. They like so play, sing and even dance. Every person that walks into my room brings something special to our class. I learn something from each of them. The kids teach me about compassion, empathy, resilience, perseverance and how to be vulnerable. Every year they leave me better than I was the year before.  How many people in other professions get to say that?

What has changed the most since you began your career in education?

Cuts in federal and state funding to education has left educators doing more with less. Class sizes are growing while teachers are being cut. Every classroom has multiple children who have experienced or are experiencing trauma. We are spending more and more of our professional development on how to identify and respond to trauma, while building resilience among our students. rather than on successful teaching practices. 

What would you like parents to know about your job?

I work very hard to make sure school is the BEST part of a child's day. I want all of my students to feel like they are important, included, loved and that they are safe. They have a bright future ahead and I want to make sure that they are prepared academically, socially and emotionally for the years to come.

Share a story about your favorite teacher/educator.

My sophomore English teacher Mary Ann Allegretto taught me that when you are passionate about what you are teaching, it can be contagious. She LOVED the novel To Kill A Mockingbird. As we read and discussed the book, she was so excited about everything we realized or discovered about the characters. By the time she showed us the movie we were all so in love with the book, that we all cried as we watched it. I remember being surprised that she still loved something so much after teaching it for so many years.

Share a favorite story about your years in education.

I think this will always be one of my favorite stories. When I was teaching a 4/5th grade class, I wanted to find out what they knew about Christopher Columbus. A boy who rarely raised his hand, was waving it at me with enthusiasm. I was so excited to see him engaged and ready to share. With my pen ready to write down his response on our chart I called on him. He looked at us and with absolute confidence said, "I KNOW that Christopher Columbus was best friends with POOH." I turned to face the chart as I needed to laugh, and another student said, "DUDE! That's Christopher Robin".

Each week during the school year, K103 and Concordia University will honor a local educator.  Each week, our honored educator receives:

  • $103 Gift Card for Classroom School Supplies
  • The Crystal Apple Award
  • A Concordia University Continuing Education Scholarship

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